Saturday, January 26, 2013

We Won't Get Fooled Again


During the 1950’s the average family began to see some prosperity and had an accepted set of morals and even went to a church. The “Leave it to Beaver” concept was alluring. And when some of us came to faith in Christ we were introduced to a system of do’s and don’ts. We were presented with some parameters within which all who believed in Jesus must fit. Most of us bought into it. Of course there were those rare rebels like Keith Green.

But as we walked with Christ through the years we began to see things about which we could not understand. I mean the church was openly capitalistic and enjoyed most of the trappings of the hedonistic culture. It just did not make sense. But even while many in the congregation walked in compromise, they seemed to have a list of things which must be considered taboo in order to be “right with God”. The usual list consisted of rock music, long hair, loose clothes, beards, modern Bible versions, and anything that could be construed as “hippie”. And with that we all fell in lockstep.

Now it wasn’t enough just to have or even agree with that list. You must judge and criticize anyone who violated any of its tenants or even those who fellowshipped with those who did. And this was no game; this was serious. The preacher had several choice rants that would pepper his sermons concerning compromisers. Of course we never heard about the evils of violence and war, or the evils of greed and capitalism, or the evils of condemning sinners. Those things were accepted norms within our brand of evangelicalism or fundamentalism.

But we had been fooled! This was not Christianity at all, but a mangled brand of legalism and Americanism. It was a revelry of rules and regulations, all of which detracted from the Redeemer Himself. And it was a breeding ground for self righteousness and a national fervor hidden in a matrix of certain moral standards. This cookie cutter religion imprisoned us in a doctrinal case of ice and even mocked any attempt to pursue a deeper life with Christ. The Bible was twisted, and to say evangelism was shallow would be kind. But we were part of the right spiritual clique.

But as I said, somewhere along the line something did not seem to add up. And when we opened our hearts and compared what we thought and said with what Jesus thought and said there was a startling disconnect. We discovered that the American church has slowly but surely created a brand of Christianity that seemed most unlike Jesus. How could this have happened? And when you venture into any kind of sincere questioning you were looked at with suspicion. It was a difficult time for many of us.

But when the Spirit sets you free you experience a comfort that can only come through His ministry. Even though you have no idea where this might lead, there is one thing you know for sure. You can never go back. Religion has the odor of decay. And adhering to a set of rules grows very stale very quickly. Although it tends to self righteousness, it imprisons people. And many of us became entrenched in such a system because we erroneously thought we were impressing God. We were not.

Of course there are things we should not do as well as things we should do. That is clear in Scripture. But separation from the world should not be our spiritual badge. What should be the hallmark of our faith is the strength and spirit in which we live the Lord Jesus. Sinners that walk in darkness should see in us a light that draws them to Christ. Our lips and our lives must be speaking and showing forth the Word of Life. And most projected is our love that always associates itself with Christ Jesus. In a world of greed and hate and self our lives should be the observable antithesis of all that.

But somewhere along the line man has taken the sacred freedom in Christ and turned it into denominations and cliques and rules and regulations. And in so doing the church has cast out the ministry of the Holy Spirit in favor of the assembly line construct. And when you become a part of legalism you immediately become self righteous. That alone should reveal how unchristlike it is. Moses brought rules; Christ brought life.

There was a day some of us were fooled, but we will not be fooled again.


Anonymous said...

So true, and I say, Amen!

Sometimes I think on these things and, I always used to be impressed by religious groups that separated themselves from the world, like the Amish, Mennonites, etc. And, when watching Muslim women in stores and streets with their shawls and head coverings, instead of being sympathetic, I'd find it inspiring that they had a committment to their faith, and were so willing to make sacrifices in order to please God. I used to wonder if I were asked by the Lord Jesus if I would be so inclined to make such sacrifices, if I could for Him.

Then later in my young adult life, I joined a church that was extremely legalistic. I was told that if Jesus had made such a sacrifice of dying for me, that I should at least want to do something for him, and that was to dress modestly, keep away from perceived idols, not cut my hair, etc.

It took several years before I started to see the error, because all it did was turn this church into servants of holiness, rather than servants of God. They easily condemned others not like them. It just didn't help us grow and mature spiritually, as we were stuck in
like Rick says, that "odor of decay".

So having left that way of life and returned to square One, I started to study the Bible and ask the Lord exactly what He wanted me to do to be an example for Him. Am still working on that one. But, one thing this experience has done for me is to feel that love for all people, no matter how they dress, no matter how they live, because so many people have been neglected, abused, or rebelled, or are emotionally disabled and need something more than being scolded for not "looking" right.

I don't have the answers for all the problems and I don't have answers for how to reach people, but all I can do is try - if the opportunity is there - meeting someone on the street and having the courage to talk to them about Jesus. When I was a churchmember, I always felt I had to steer them to my "church" and pray that they acted and looked like "us", or that they perform the rituals of baptism with specific words, or else they wouldn't be saved. So many distortions in how each denomination teaches, yet from each denomination, there are many good things we can learn.

However, what I learned in several denominations, I'd encourage anyone to read the book of Acts at the early church on the Day of Pentecost and Peter gave his sermon, saying that those filled with the Holy Spirit were not drunk but that God promised that he would pour out of His Spirit on all flesh, and our sons and our daughters would prophesy, well, it's Acts 2.

And yet, those denominations who used that chapter as their "badge of honor" and as their official doctrine, would turn that special divine gift sometimes into a circus spectacle and become to self-righteous as to turn people away.

The organized church in the world has many problems, but in the U.S. right now, the organized church is dangerously imploding because it's now not just in-fighting about doctrine, it's embraced nationalism. Even Mr. Cleaver would probably agree.

mrs k said...


It's been a long and gracious process of the Holy Spirit but the day I finally realized just how much the gospel of Jesus Christ has been conscripted by the "American dream" and American nationalism was a stunner. Your guidance here has been a large part of the process, Rick. Thank you.

Now it's a matter of unraveling the straight jacket of delusions thread by thread. That too is a long process of the Spirit through a humble surrender to the Word and staying open to new insights.

Thank God for His faithfulness!

Rick Frueh said...

"unraveling the straight jacket of delusions thread by thread"


Anonymous said...

I like the description, "unraveling the straight jacket of delusions thread by thread" also.
Good article Rick. My journey since being Born from above, has been through many minefields and into box canyons of denominational deception. It is only through the Grace and Mercy of God Himself that I made it through. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" John 10:27. "He that is of God heareth God's Word..." John 8:47. "If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you FREE" John 8:31,32. Hallelujah!!! Free from religious bondage! From the pharisaical american churchianity which passes for Biblical Christianity.

I would recommend a couple of sights to learn more of some examples of theological trainwrecks; STUFF FUNDIES LIKE and THE MUSEUM OF IDOLATRY.

michael said...

(" How could this have happened? And when you venture into any kind of sincere questioning you were looked at with suspicion. It was a difficult time for many of us.")

It still is a difficult! But, to answer that question we should be clear about it.

In the book of Deuteronomy :"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, "Let us go after other gods," which you have not known, "and let us serve them," you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:1-3 ESV)


In the. Book of the Revelation : And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. (Revelation 19:20 ESV)

We see in the one, Deuteronomy , there is a "natural man" who manifests by false signs and wonders phenomenon that deceives. We see in the other, Revelation, the "false spirit" who is behind that natural man.

This world lies in the lap of the evil one whose way is deceit. His chief agents include the beast, false prophet, Death, Hades and everyone whose name is not recorded in the Lamb's book of Life!

Our only hope of deliverance from these evil forces is the Spirit of Grace and Truth. There is no hope for us otherwise and so I offer these Words as Words to ponder in that regard: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13 ESV)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Michael for the Scriptures. I'm reminded of this saying 'In the OLD is concealed the NEW; In the NEW is revealed the OLD'.
"ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine,for reproof,for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" 2 Timothy 3:16,17.

"Our only hope of deliverance from these evil forces is the Spirit of Grace and Truth". AMEN!


pjmiller said...

Amen Amen!!

Anonymous said...

Profitable post and reply; thank you everyone.
I've been all around the block in sincerity, trying to follow Jesus since 1980. He has been faithful to lead. We get into dead ends and errors because we we get in with a crowd, we naively think we are to follow our "shepherds" and they get into problems because of their ambitions and so on, and our own disobediences and impure hearts hook us into stuff. But He is so faithful to keep us and to complete His good work in us.
I've observed that a critical issue in whether we can be moved along in Truth and Christlikeness, or get fossilized and given over to our deceptions, is whether we love Truth and Jesus more than any other thing: more than friends, or positions, or reputations, or our own preferences and opinions. If we do, we will pay the cost when the Holy Spirit reveals that we must change or go a different way. If not, we might choose deception instead, becoming deceived that we can't see the deception!
About holiness and separation, I hold that yes-we are to be! But authentic separation is a separation of the heart and transformed mind, separated from the spirit of the age and of the world. True heart circumcision will result in outward behaviors, so we can never judge someone for holding to certain outward consecrations. The issue is when the outward behaviors substitute for inward heart separation. Holiness, like faith, is inside but will show outside.
I suspect that some christians put effoert into outward separations, but in their hearts and minds are acting in the same spirit of the age and of the world--the spirit of contention and retaliation and accusation, of power and money and manipulation, of politics and humanism. I think some blame lies with the pulpit because true living in the Spirit isn't modeled or taught.

Shannon said...

Thank you for the suggestion of checking out this link Robert.
This video is just one example of man's feeble attempt to build/add to the Church Jesus Christ is building.
The false church is growing by leaps and bounds today because man is building it.

Robert said...

You are welcome, Shannon.

The comments directed towards the institution that made the video, "THE CHURCH THE PASTOR STARTED", are quite an accurate illustration of the absurdity of thinking that WE can 'save souls'. Dare to question the worldly, ego-stroking methods of these mini-popes and you get labeled an heretic.


Robert said...


I also wanted to give you a tip of my hat. I have learned much from your posts.
Thank you,

Mark said...

Music to my soul, Rick (I'm one of the long-imprisoned).

Also, Robert: You said a mouthful- 'Dare to question the worldly, ego-stroking methods of these mini-popes and you get labeled an heretic'. Good thing some of us don't care anymore :)

Grace Mogbo said...

Thank you ones again and please do visit my blog at
Thank you for all you do and my God richly bless you.

Anonymous said...

Again, very true Pastor Rick. The human race has an amazing ability to twist and ruin every God given good thing. That is why God had to send the flood, shorten our lifespan, etc. That is why God had to suffer and die an agonizing death on a cross. That is why God has to allow a tribulation and an Armageddon. The fact is that man (and woman) is the author of his own torment. The fact is that humanity is a most generous administrator of suffering. And the most terrifying fact is that people love to lay the blame at God's door!!!

Evelyn said...

Amen and Amen to this post and the comments!

Terry said...

Sorry for the delayed response. I worked all weekend and am getting caught up.

Your post danced around "The Jesus Movement" of the 60s and 70s. I believe it was a move of God directed to save the lost sheep who weren't being reached, and also to intentionally confound the church culture at the time. I just read the parable of the Prodigal Son this morning, and the older brother easily represents the American church of the 60s.

I believe the Jesus Movement ended because a simple friendship with the Son of God became ordinary, and taken for granted. We wanted "meat". And by meat I mean something more pragmatic, and less mystical. So we replaced Jesus with Family Values, and Financial Stewardship. And instead of winning the lost, our goal became combining our forces to become a Moral Majority and take back America for God.

And this is where we find ourselves. A church more well known for it's commitment to Right Wing politics than anything remotely related to the man, the son of God, Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Eloquent and accurate, Terry.

I was heavily influenced by the tail end of the JesusMovement and Keith Green. The focus of many of our peers shifted from the Great Commission, corporate prayer, and living community (not neccessarily commune, but true loving daily accountability and mutual care of "Body life")to doing church and pursuing causes.